Thank you all for the encouraging comments about my photos from the trip to Alaska. Several of you have asked questions about the photos on email, text or during phone calls. I will try to answer those here.
1. The most popular question is, "how far are you from those bears?"
This, I will answer in two parts. First, it is important to know that the Brown Bear species has several relations that differ in many respects. Our guides, the lodge owners and our photography instructors noted that the bears in this area of Alaska are accustomed to people. But, they were also abundantly clear that they would not use the term "habituated"; they are, in fact, still a wild animal living in its wide open territory. In some cases, we were as close as 10-20ft from the bears, or as far as about 500 yards. The prior comments are important to keep under consideration because the subspecies of brown bears include the Kodiak and the Grizzly. The Kodiak is much larger and one of the largest land best predators. Similarly, the Grizzly is also quite large, but is also known to take down large game like Elk and Moose. So, while the first part of this answer is "yes, we were very close", that does not mean you should do the same, especially in other territories like the Tetons.
The second part of the answer is that equipment helped reach and follow the bears. I created my images with a Nikon D4s and a Nikon 200-400mm f/4 lens. Most of the time, that lens also had a Nikon 1.7x teleconverter, providing me with more than 600mm in equivalent focal reach. I carried this configuration alongside a Nikon D800 with either the 70-200mm f/2.8 or the 24-70 f/2.8 lens. Between both, I had near and far capability.
2. The second most popular question is, "did you photoshop the night images?"
Yes, I have enhanced certain features, but these are largely created using functionality in most cameras and available to everyone with any skill level or camera type. These were shot using the Nikon D800 and the 24-70mm lens. Experiment for the conditions you are working with. I shot ISO 2000 to 4000, Aperture range from f/2.8 to f/5.6 and a consistent shutter speed of 20 to 25 seconds. Typically, most camera/lens combinations will start to see start trails, or at least less-than-sharp stars if you exceed 25 seconds. This is due to the normal rotation of the Earth. If you look closely, you'll see that I mis-focused the Aurora shot. I am dismayed by that, but want to share the experience and capture.
I also want to explain the night image with the meadow and the stars. In the foreground, the meadow has light and shadows. This, also, is a 20 second exposure, so every bit of light is captured. The light in the foreground meadow is just two or three porch lights cast over the meadow. In the far background, the orange glow is what we presume was sodium lighting cast from distant, off-shore oil rigs. This image is tweaked, but not "photoshopped" by making up elements that were not present in the camera shot.
3. What part of Alaska did you visit?
We stayed at Silver Salmon Creek Lodge in the Lake Clark National Forest. http://silversalmoncreek.com I cannot say enough about this lodge and the people. The staff, the guides, the location, the food were all fantastic and greatly exceeded expectations. This is not a day-trip lodge. Instead, it is a well-organized and well-run lodge for multi-day trips for fishing, viewing, photography and just plain vacation. If you are looking for a recommendation, you will receive nothing but excellent remarks and insights from me.
4. How did you find about this destination?
I attended a Sports Photography workshop at the US Olympic Training facility in Colorado Springs last year. This was hosted by Summit Workshops. Based on that extraordinary experience, I planned to attend this trip, "Destination: Alaska". Summit hosts a number of high quality workshops with the highest calibre of professionals as instructors. http://www.photographyatthesummit.com
I hope you enjoy these images and are inspired by the sights and scenes I've captured. I have many, many more images to go through and will post them to the gallery as I find those ideal images!
I will also be updating the catalog with other print options, including a calendar. Watch for more to come or contact me if you have specific thoughts !
Thanks for your encouragement and support !
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